U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

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Two white men in profile face each otherPolitics of Yellow Fever logo

Yellow fever ravaged Philadelphia in 1793. Citizens confronted the epidemic in the absence of an effective cure or consensus about the origins of the disease. Medical professionals, early political parties, and private citizens seized on the epidemic to advance their respective agendas. As a result, Philadelphia’s sick and dying received medical care informed as much by politics as by the best available science. Over a hundred years later and after yellow fever struck other US cities, scientists confirmed that mosquitoes can transmit yellow fever and other diseases and mosquito control emerged as an important public health measure.

Politics of Yellow Fever in Alexander Hamilton’s America considers how science and politics informed the response to the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia and examines the ways in which efforts to confront the disease helped shape the development of the nation’s public health infrastructure over a century later.

Last Reviewed: January 11, 2019